Rooney out as D.C. coach after playoff hopes end

Wayne Rooney has left his role as D.C. United head coach after the team was eliminated from MLS playoff contention Saturday.

D.C. defeated New York City FC 2-0 at home on in its final game of the regular season but results elsewhere meant it can no longer finish in the top nine places in the Eastern Conference to qualify for the postseason.

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Immediately following the game, the team said it had mutually agreed to part ways with Rooney.

“We have spoken with Wayne and agreed it is best for us to part ways at this time,” Jason Levien, CEO and co-chairman of D.C. United, said in a news release.

“This decision creates the avenue for our next General Manager to have the full opportunity to impart a new philosophy and structure onto our sporting operations, which begins with the critical identification of a Head Coach who will best align with this.

“We are grateful to Wayne Rooney for all he has done for our club and for soccer in the Nation’s Capital, first as a D.C. United player and captain and most recently as our coach. He remains an important part of the D.C. United family and a valued and cherished friend.”

Added Rooney in a news conference following the game: “I feel it’s the right time for me to go back to England. What lies ahead, I don’t know.”

Rooney, who previously spent 18 months as a player with D.C., rejoined the club as head coach in July 2022 but couldn’t prevent the team from finishing in last place in the East. Though he led D.C. to an improved 10-10-14 record in 2023, the team will again miss out on the playoffs.

A legend as a player, Rooney is Manchester United‘s record goal scorer and had a then-record 53 goals for the England national team. Prior to arriving in D.C., he coached Derby County in England’s second-tier championship.

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